10-04-2012, 02:10 AM
Join Date: May 2009
I thought I'd try and dig up some objective evidence, since that's a lot more reliable than TT posters' recollections. What I found definitely points to the second half of 2004, especially in the run-up to, and immediately after, the US Open. That's when the "could he?" questions relating to Sampras' 14 slams started coming thick and fast:
"Over the last 10 months, his display of shot-making, movement, determination and poise has pundits pegging him as a threat to break Pete Sampras' record of 14 majors."
Douglas Robson, USA Today, September 10, 2004
"A scarce 13 months after his first Slam title, the 22-year-old from Switzerland has sparked the 'best ever' conversation."
Neil Schmidt, Cincinnati Enquirer, August 3, 2004
"After winning his third Grand Slam title of the year, Federer evokes talk of possibly being the greatest player of all time." / "It’s tempting, after watching so thorough a thrashing — the first with two shutout sets in the U.S. men’s championship match since 1884 — to wonder if the self-coached, 23-year-old Swiss might be on his way to becoming the greatest player in history." / "Is Pete Sampras’ record 14 major titles safe?"
Steve Wilstein, MSNBC Sports, September 20, 2004
"Not too early to ask if he is on a trajectory to eclipse the game's best players. Pete Sampras, to whom Federer is often compared, holds the men's record, with 14 Grand Slam singles titles."
Greg Garber, ESPN, September 13, 2004
"He may go down in history – he's getting there – as the greatest player who's ever played."
John McEnroe, quoted on September 12, 2004